In the Image of God

Jesus Is . . .

Just as people's concept of God is often different from the Bible; so, too, is people's concept of Jesus. This was not his name, incidentally, when he was on Earth or even now. The Hebrew is Yehoshua, or Joshua in today's English. (The Hebrew does not have a "j" sound.) Jesus is the Romanization of his real name, which is interesting. A lot of the holidays connected with Jesus, such as Christmas, are Roman in origin rather than Biblical. Some Christian, well Messianic, groups refuse to use Jesus and insist on Yehoshua because they do not want the true Jesus, uh, Yehoshua, to be confused with the traditional Jesus. I cannot imagine his childhood friends calling him Shua or Yesh, but it definitely was not Jesus or Jesse.

Christ is also not a Biblical term. Christos is the Greek for the Messiah, which is the proper Hebrew term for Christ. So in proper "Biblicalese" Jesus Christ should be Yehoshua Messiah. So already we begin to get a different perspective, a more Biblical perspective, of Jesus even by looking at the original words. While the New Testament was written in Greek based on Aramaic, we gain better understanding by recognizing the roots. In any case, the English for Messiah means Anointed. Which brings us to our first topic.

Jesus is the Messiah

Strong's reference number: 5547
Greek: Christos
Derivation: Derived from 5548
Definition: anointed, i.e. the Messiah, an epithet of Jesus

What was Jesus anointed to do? God anointed him as high priest. The high priest's job, in Old Testament times, among others was to make sacrifices to atone for the sins of the people. Jesus's giving himself up as a sacrifice for the sins of the world established his qualifications to be high priest. As you remember, God made Jesus the high priest after the order of Melchizedek, not Levi; thus ending the Levitical priesthood. The New Covenant priesthood began with Jesus whom God, therefore, anointed as High Priestforever.

God anointed Jesus to be the savior. But, the Bible says God is our Savior. Remember God's justice required the death penalty be paid for sin, the wages of sin is death. God's mercy gave us His only begotten Son to die in our place for our sins. Jesus's sacrifice obtained salvation from God for us. Thus God is our Savior through Jesus, who becomes our savior by his sacrifice. Without God there is no Son of God. Without God Jesus had no will to follow. Without God Jesus could not be raised from the dead. Everything Jesus did points to His, Our, Father. God is our Savior.

After God raised Jesus from the dead, He made him lord, kurios, that is, supreme in authority, under God of course. Jesus became king of kings and lord of lords. God anointed him as the ruler of the universe.

The debate between certain churches is between salvation through works or grace with the implication of faith intrinsic. Actually, the divergence should be a convergence. James tells us faith and grace without works is dead. First we believe that God sent His Son to die for our sins and be resurrected; then we act on the faith by obeying God's laws. Do you believe Jesus is Lord? Do you act on that faith by keeping the day God made him Lord of - the Sabbath?

Jesus's sacrifice dying in our place for our sins saved us from permanent death.

(See: Phi 3:20-21, 1 Thes 5:9, 2 Tim 1:8-10, 1 John 5:1, John 17:3.)

Jesus is the Son of God

Most Protestants and Catholics churches teach that some mystical or metaphysical being called the Word, that was equal to and was indeed God, existed from the beginning. They base their belief on John 1:1-4. They say that the mystical Word-Being incarnated as a human being called Jesus. That belief confronts the Biblical proof that God is One as we saw last month. Also the New Testament calls Jesus the Son of God 43 times, son of man 82 times and God the Son 0 times. There are 3 weak references to Jesus as godly. If the Bible says things clearly over and over again, but then it has one or two apparently contradictory statements, we must believe what is overwhelmingly clear and try to figure out what those contradictions really mean. We cannot base our faith on divergent, confusing scriptures because we believe something before the fact.

In John 1:1, the Bible says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

In the beginning, before God created the world, He created the Word, the Bible. Then the meaning of the Word changes to state that God is the Word. That makes perfect sense because we are as good as our word and our words, our language pattern and thinking, certainly express who we are. Further, one possible root of Yahweh is He who speaks. John 1:1 confirms that root by saying God is the Word, He who speaks. "God said." God called into existence that which did not previously exist, Peter explains. The Word is not some transcendental being, coequal with God. The Word is God.

In John 1:2, the Bible says, "He was in the beginning with God." There are two ways to treat this verse. The word for Word is logos, masculine gender. Thus translating logos by gender gives us he instead of it. We could use the proper English neuter case, it, the Bible, was in the beginning with God, it was in His mind while not yet written. On the other hand we could use the Greek masculine case which means he, Jesus, that the thought of Jesus, who is the Word made flesh was in God's mind from the beginning, though not yet born, not yet existent. The point is clear, both the Bible and Jesus were in God's mind before they actually came into existence. In no way can we make the case that Jesus is God, for God is Eternal and Jesus had a beginning about two thousand years ago.

So Jesus is the Son of God, and he is the son of man. You see if Jesus were God made flesh, incarnation, then people are not saved. A god, made man, cannot save a human being by his death. Only a human being can save other humans. Besides Paul points out that it is the flesh that comes first then the spiritual. Look at Genesis. First God formed Adam from the clay of the earth, and then He breathed into him the breath of life, the spirit of man, a touch of the divine. So no eternal God in the form of some metaphysical being called the Word can give up his immortality to become human. It works the other way around. After Jesus died in the flesh and was resurrected, he became an immortal spirit being like Our Father.

Jesus must be the Son of God, the Word clothed in flesh, for God to effect salvation through him. Anything else would not work. In fact, the Bible demands that we believe Jesus is the Son of God as the only way to obtain grace, to overcome the world, and be saved.

(See: John 1:1-4, 20:31, Acts 8:36, Rom 10:9, 1 John 5:5.)

Jesus Is Lord and Teacher

Jesus being the Word made flesh helped to define or redefine the words of the Old Testament. Above we saw that some scholars suggest that one of the roots of Yahweh meant to speak. The New Testament suggests that God is the Word. Peter noted that God called into existence that which never existed. "And God said"

Jesus taught first by example. He was never too tired or hungry or thirsty to help someone in need. He healed all who came to him in faith. He fed the hungry and changed water into wine for the marriage feast. In every way Jesus taught by doing.

He also taught by story or parable. A good story says a lot more than dry facts. Yet there are times for exposition, which Jesus never hesitated to do.

Interestingly, Jesus connects his being Lord with his being a teacher. Jesus knew that being the Lord and Master had to demonstrated by his love (works) and then his teaching. To Jesus being teacher and lord are parts of the same role.

Having said all this, one event each week demonstrates the connection between Lord and Teacher.

Jesus is the lord of the Sabbath, which is when he teaches us. When we keep the day he is lord of, we prove our faith because it is impossible to please God without faith in Jesus, by acting by faith in Jesus.

When two or three are gathered together in Jesus's name, he is present. God commands such a gathering each seventh day of the week and the seven Holy Days.

(See: 1 Cor 3:23, 5:4, Phil 1:18, Mark 2:28-29, Eph 5:23, John 13:13, Phil 2:11.)

Jesus Is the Faithful Head of the Church

Hebrews describes Jesus, as the loyal son given authority over God's the house, the church. Since all believers comprise the household of God, Jesus rules the faithful as God determined. Paul notes that God raised Jesus to sit as His right hand far above all rulers and authorities. He placed everything under his purview, especially, the church, his body.

How can we trust Jesus's loyalty? Obviously, he proved his loyalty by the death he suffered, for our sins. During his lifetime he further demonstrated his loyalty by healing people, exorcising demons and doing other miracles.

Jesus's head of the church is likened to the love a husband shows to his wife who graciously submits to his rule. Thus, the church submits to Jesus's rule for the same reason - Jesus's demonstrated love for the believers.

(See: Eph 5:23, Heb 3:6, 13:8, 3:6.)

Jesus Is the Mediator of the New Covenant

What is a mediator? Strong's defines it thusly:

Strong's reference number: 3316
Greek: mesites
Derivation: Derived from 3319
Definition: a go between, i.e. (simply) an internunciator, or (by impl.) a reconciler (intercessor).

In English we might prefer calling Jesus a go-between, between God and us. He negotiates between God and us. He intercedes on our behalf.

Why do we need a mediator? Jesus lived a human life, in the flesh. God is a Spirit Being. Jesus understands first hand what it is like to be human. God depends on Jesus's experience to be our advocate. Not that Jesus is going to defend our wrongs, never. He will understand why we are so slow to change. But his intercession is far more dramatic.

As you know God put us into Jesus's hands. He insists we succeed, not by excusing us but by patient assistance in changing. Therefore, God trusts Jesus's interceding on our behalf. He uses his blood and sacrifice to intercede.

Just what does he intercede in our behalf for? For letting our past sinful lives intrude on our present lives. God said that the covenant He makes with us is to write His laws on our hearts and our minds.

Jesus mediates on our behalf by his sacrifice. Just as the sacrificed animals of the past removed sins, Jesus's sacrifice cancels our retribution for our sins. His blood stands between our sins and God. We are cleansed and come boldly to the throne of grace.

(See: Heb 2:15, 1 Tim 2:5.)

Jesus Is Our Brother

We can never hope, in our minds, to reach the level of Jesus's love and sacrifice in our ways. God expects just the contrary. He considers rather that we even grow to His maturity. He knows that we can and should.

These things being so, God has the expectations of us equal to His Son. So God adopts us into the God-Family and calls us sons. Jesus, indeed, calls us brothers.

(See: Heb 2:11-12.)

Jesus Is In Us

The power and force of the Gospel, which we study and commit to memory, becomes a part of our minds and beings. The more we appreciate and act on the Gospel, the more Jesus is in us. He guides us from the inside out by the power of the words of the Gospel. Not only does God write His laws on our minds, He also gives us Jesus's vitality from the pages of the Gospel.

(See: Eph 1:20-23, Rom 8:10, Gal 4:19, Col 3:1, 11, 1 Thes 5:21, Heb 3:1, Gal 2:20. )

Faith in Jesus

We have faith in Jesus because God begot him as His Son. Why is this a criterion for faith? Since God gave us Jesus as our sacrifice for our sins and since Jesus proved his loyalty to God and us by his giving up his life in our stead, we know we can trust him and have faith in him. Even now, as I said, Jesus is pleading for us in heaven.

For our sake, Jesus allowed himself to be slaughtered as sheep. Ours is the victory through Jesus who loved and loves us. Nothing can keep us from his love - not death, not life, not angels and not demons.

Because the Kingdom of God is near we must have faith in Jesus and the Gospel, which is the Good News of Jesus and the Kingdom of God. The Good News that has been preached to Jew and Gentiles is that they must repent and believe in Jesus if they want salvation. Paul preached the Good News to Felix, the Roman Governor who found the message a little strong for him. God commands us to believe that Jesus is His Son and Savior from Him.

We have faith in Jesus because he is the end, purpose, of the law. Since we have no righteousness of our own, we get our righteousness from him. The commandments that Moses received and David loved refer to Jesus's righteousness, the only one who kept God's commands perfectly. Jesus was born under the law that the law might be written on our hearts and minds and that he might redeem us. Only by our faith in Jesus can we keep the commandments, which attest to our love of God.

Jesus warns that any who would try to undermine the faith we have in him would be punished so severely that they would be better off tying an anchor to themselves and being tossed overboard.

On the other hand, those who remain faithful, true, and loyal will be able to love more deeply than Jesus did and keep the word better, because they would be able to destroy such evils as hypocrisy, envy, slander, malice and deceit in themselves. Just as Jesus went to land of sin and slavery, Egypt, we too must depart the wrongs of the world. In truth, if God desires or wills it, He will make us do greater miracles than Jesus.

(See: Rom 10:4, Col 2:5, 1 John 5:1, Psalms 119:66, Mat 18:6, John 14:12-14, 16:8-11, Acts 20:21, 24:24-25, Mar 1:15, Gal 2:16-17, 4:4-5, 1 Peter 1:21-25, 2:1-3, 1 John 3:23-24.)

 

Test of Faith

James says that he will demonstrate his faith by his works. Words without action are meaningless, we have learned. People can say anything; the proof is in the doing. So too is our faith proven or tested.

The simplest test of faith is following God's instructions. God first tested the Israelites with manna. He rained down the stuff six days; any left over would rot by the next day. But on the Sabbath, the sixth's day supply lasted the next day, the Seventh Day Sabbath. God told them to gather the stuff six days, but not to go out and gather any on the seventh day. He tested their faith to see if they would obey him in keeping the Sabbath by not gathering on the day of rest.

He further tested them by making them wander the badlands for forty years to see if they would continue to keep the commandments. In the New Testament, God warns that our works will be tested by fire. If they burn up, we might still be saved but only by severe testing. If the works stand up to God's standard, then we will be rewarded comparably.

God says that the major test of our faith is holding to the knowledge that God is One. The man asked Jesus what must he do to live forever. Jesus answered keep the commandments. Which is the most important one? "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one," Jesus answered.

David even asks God to examine his heart because he firmly resolved not to sin. He had that much confidence in the power of God's Word and man's ability to obey it, with God's help, of course. Not only did David practiced examining himself, but Jeremiah advocated it.

Paul told the Galatians ,and us, to test our own actions. He tells us what we sow, so shall we reap. If we sow to please our sinful nature, then we will reap death without appeal. If we sow to please the Spirit, we will reap eternal life. Choose life.

Since we know we will be tested, we ought to prepare for the test. Just as students prepare for the SAT's, we ought to prepare for the test that will determine our acceptance to God's standard, not Princeton's. How do we prepare?

First we must prepare our minds for action by keeping the goal of salvation and eternal life in the forefront of our minds. We practice self-control. Even if Satan tries to imprison or persecute us for a brief time, we must be faithful during the trial or test. We know what might come; so be ready. We must also realize that God will never test us beyond our ability to withstand it. We also prepare for our testing by serving the brethren and all we come in contact with.

Finally, the result the test of our faith is the crown of life. Choose life. Whatever riches we might accumulate in the material world, our greatest treasure is the good character God instills in us. This is greater than all the gold and jewelry. For our character is what God will raise from the dead. All else will be left behind. Choose life.

(See: Exo 16:4-5, Deut 8:2-3, Psalms 17:3, 139:23-24, Lam 3:40, Luke 10:25, Mark 12:29, Rom 8:34-38, 1 Cor 3:13-15, 2 Cor 13:6-8, Gal 6:4-10, James 1:12, 1 Peter 1:7, 13, 2:5, Rev 2:10, 3:10, Eph 4:12.)

Amen.

- Gil Kovacs

Sabbath Christian Church

941 649 5888
(e-mail) kov@mediaone.net


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